Removal of the remains of a modern concrete ceiling and further conservation measures.
The modern city of Suweida, ancient Dionysias, is situated at a height of 1200 m above sea level in the volcanic Basalt massif Ğabal al-Arab, approximately 90 km south of Damascus.
Initially, there was an Aramaean settlement called Soada at the site. In the 2nd century, the site was granted city status under the reign of Hadrian. Several monumental and representative buildings, as well as their luxurious interiors, indicate the wealth of the city in the Roman imperial period. In the early Christian period, the city became the seat of a bishop.
The monumental archway was severely affected by the building of a new road from Suweida to Bostra. In order to ensure the continued preservation of the monument, conservation measures thus became essential.
Based on the initiative of the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums and the DAI Damascus, the monumental archway, situated 1km south-east of Suweida, was restored in Spring 1998 (see images). Experienced local workers carried out the conservation measures according to the results of a survey by the architect G. Stanzl of the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Rheinland Pfalz. Initially, a concrete ceiling built into the west face of the monument was removed. The walls were repaired using old, roughly hewn basalt ashlars rather than concrete. The general aim of these measures was the conservations of the original building to as high a degree as possible. Furthermore, the general appearance of the monument was not to be disrupted by the inclusion of new and smoothly worked stones.
The conservation measures were carried out in cooperation between the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums, the Directorate of Antiquities of Souweida and the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Rheinland Pfalz.
Dr. phil. Ing. G. Stanzl
Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Ref. Bauforschung, Rheinland-Pfalz
Schillerstr. 44, D-55116 Mainz
Tel. 06131-2016-0; E-mail: email@example.com.
To date there has only been unpublished archaeological and historical research dealing with the ancient site.